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The Royal Palaces and Inns of Court

The Royal Palaces

The royal family did not, for obvious reasons, attend plays with the common populous in the playhouses, and so Shakespeare and the Chamberlain's Men would, on occasion, be requested to perform at court. During Christmas, 1594, Shakespeare acted before Queen Elizabeth I in her palace at Greenwich in two separate comedies, and during Christmas, 1597, the Chamberlain's Men performed Love's Labour's Lost before the Queen in her palace at Whitehall. In 1603, Shakespeare performed multiple times before King James I at Hampton Court with his troupe, now known as the King's Men.

The Inns of Court

The Inns of Court were four law schools in London, namely the Inner Temple, the Middle Temple, Gray's Inn, and Lincoln's Inn. Gala performances of Shakespeare's plays were held in the halls of at least two of the Inns of Court -- Twelfth Night in 1602 in the Middle Temple and The Comedy of Errors in 1594 in Gray's Inn. Shakespeare was interested enough in the Inns of Court to make them the setting for Act 2, Scene 4 of 1 Henry VI.

The Houses of the Nobility

Like Queen Elizabeth and King James, noblemen did not attend playhouses. It was not uncommon for Shakespeare and the Chamberlain's Men to perform at the country houses and estates of the nobility. In 1603, Shakespeare performed at the house of the Earl of Pembroke, and in 1605 he performed at Lord Southampton's London house.

How to cite this article:
Mabillard, Amanda. Shakespeare's Royal Palaces and Inns of Court. Shakespeare Online. 10 Dec. 2000. < royalpalaces.html >.


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Interior of the Middle Temple Hall. From Shakespeare and the Stage by Maurice Jonas, 1918.